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Johnson County Shooters Have a Successful Nationals Trip

By Jessica Lawrenz | 4-H & Youth Development Agent

     Aim small, miss small!” is a phrase our Johnson County shooters have learned to embrace. The 4-H Shooting Sports program in Johnson County has undoubtedly become a popular and one of the largest 4-H projects in the last ten years! 
     Whether a 4-H’er has an interest in BB, rifle, shotgun, pistol or archery, the shooting sports project teaches youth shooting and range safety, hunting skills, environmental awareness, marksmanship, and a variety of life skills including respect, control, self-discipline, resiliency, determination, and sportsmanship, all while offering the opportunity to compete against other 4-H’ers from around the state and nation.
     Shooting sports is a unique sport that is worldwide and so popular only two other sports attract more participating countries at the Olympics. The program promotes individual as well as team competition which can lead to scholarships in many colleges and a life-long sport or hobby.
     This year, five JoCo shooters and two coaches qualified and had the opportunity to attend the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championship that took place in Grand Island, Nebraska on June 26-July 1. The JoCo team included (l to r) Natalie Gulick, recurve archery, Evan Kozlowski, small bore pistol, Coach Sara Eccles, small bore pistol, Abby Lawrenz, muzzleloader, Coach Arn Eccles, recurve archery, Landon Pierce, small bore pistol, and Becca Adair, small bore pistol. Visit the 2022 Shooting Sports Nationals page, for images and results.
     It requires many steps and a ton of hard work to end up at the National level in shooting sports! First a shooter must attend and compete in at least one county shooting match and earn a minimum score to qualify for the state match. At the state match, a shooter must place in the top four to earn a spot to attend Nationals. Only four shooters in each discipline from the ENTIRE state make up a Kansas team for every discipline, so it is quite an honor to earn your seat on the team. 
     The coach for the National team is then chosen by the #1 seed shooter in the state for every discipline. There are nine disciplines represented at Nationals which include recurve archery, compound archery, shotgun, air pistol, air rifle, small bore pistol, small bore rifle, hunting skills, and muzzleloader. In total, a state can bring up to nine teams of three-to-four shooters per team.
     At this year’s Nationals, Team Kansas won a prestigious and special award! They won the Sweepstakes Award for the very first time in 42 years of the Nationals Championships! This award only applies to states with all nine disciplines represented. The teams’ scores from each discipline is added together for an overall score. The highest scoring overall team earns the award, and this year it was Kansas!
     The towering traveling trophy will be kept at the Kansas State University 4-H office until next year’s championship match.
     For more information about the Johnson County Shooting Sports program, contact the Extension Office or your JoCo Shooting Sports Coordinators Arn Eccles (arneccles@gmail.com), Lisa Castellon-Smith (lisa@custompublications.com), or Beth Alloway (boa@ksu.edu).